Politics

In the 1920 election, we wanted to get back to normal—Sound familiar?

After WWI and the Spanish flu, the country craved normalcy.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

As President Donald Trump and the nation grapple with how to get the country back to normal, they may want to look back 100 years to the election and time of 1920 to get an idea of how to do it.

That year the American people had just dealt with, in the preceding two years, the end of WWI, the Versailles Peace Conference, women’s suffrage, the president’s stroke and incapacitation, a recession, the League of Nations controversy, the Soviet takeover of Russia, the passing of Prohibition, the Red Scare, and the Spanish flu.

In the election of 1920 the nation elected a quiet Republican governor from Ohio, Warren Harding, as president. Harding promised “a return to normalcy” as his campaign slogan. The Democrat, James Cox, was also from Ohio and ran a lackluster effort. He was swamped by a Harding landslide and only took the South, then strongly Democrat as the Democrats, like today, were the party of racism. The only political bright spot for the Democrats was their choice of vice president. It gave national exposure to a little-known former Asst. Navy Secretary, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was the first national election women could vote in.

There are parallels for today. Over the past two years we have dealt with the Russian hoax, the Mueller hoax, the impeachment hoax, the border wall, the rise of the hard Left, a hard-left media, the corruption of the FBI, and a host of other issues that have plagued the national discourse. And then when impeachment was over and the economy was roaring on all cylinders, the coronavirus hit.

In 1920, their way of returning to normal was to ease up on the government throttle. We will have to do the same thing in regards to this crisis. Like the Wilson administration and the Spanish flu in 1920, the worst seems to be behind us. As President Trump realizes and is planning for, the nation must get back to work, back to school, and back to normal. Even if it is a new normal.

With the notable exception of Prohibition, Harding’s return ushered in perhaps the most creative, productive, and prosperous decade in American history—the Roaring Twenties. May we be as lucky (though avoid the end of that particular decade). Given our economic issues today, we may be going through that economic disaster right now anyway. But thankfully, this time, with no slide rule jock at the helm.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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